Looking for an online spectacles retailer (UK) that will make lenses to a very strong prescription.
May 20, 2009 2:34 AM   Subscribe

Looking for an online spectacles retailer (UK) that will make lenses to a very strong prescription.

I'm keen to take advantage of cheaper glasses by buying online (in the UK). All the online shops I've seen have prescription boxes that only go to about -6 Sphere. My prescription is about -10 Sphere in both eyes. Do the online places not cater for such strong prescriptions? They claim to use the same labs as high street opticians - is it worth emailing the sites to ask? I'd love to know of any online glasses shops that would make such strong lenses. Bonus if they offer polarized prescription sunglasses lenses.
posted by primer_dimer to Shopping (9 answers total)
Best answer: Googles4u Eyeglasses made me a pair of spectacles with -10 Sphere in late 2008. Perhaps they might be worth a try. They have a UK site, and all EU orders are dispatched from London.
posted by Tapioca at 2:52 AM on May 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: floam - in trying to avoid confusion, I have inadvertently created confusion :) I've always called them 'glasses', but I vaguely remember hearing them referred to as 'eyeglasses' on TV adverts in the US, and I know some people (e.g. Tapioca) call them 'spectacles', so I thought I'd throw in all three words. I don't think there's any difference.
posted by primer_dimer at 3:04 AM on May 20, 2009

Response by poster: Tapioca - for a while there you had me believing that google had increased their range of products even further than I had imagined :)
posted by primer_dimer at 3:06 AM on May 20, 2009

I'm interested in what kind of answer you get, but I can't really imagine that online glasses purchasing is a good idea. Glasses need to be properly measured and fitted by a professional, particularly when you're in the -10 range (I'm at -14 myself). A milimeter off is going to make a big difference. You may end up paying less for useless glasses.

Those of us with severe vision problems (as I like to say, "those of us who actually NEED glasses") have always been disqualified from the "cheap glasses" or "two for one" deals. Primarily this is because you probably don't just want a stronger version of what they're selling. If you're in the -10 range, you will probably want a thinner version of the lens, which pumps up the price significantly and isn't included in the cheap deal. -10 is inevitably going to be coke bottle bottoms in regular lenses unless you get really tiny frames. And unless you want watch-battery sized lenses, you might want to look into thinner lenses to fit into the frames of your choice.

Another consideration: sometimes glass lenses are cheaper, depending where you are. It used to be that they could grind glass lenses thinner than they could plastic, making it the natural choice for anyone with severely poor vision, but I don't think that's the case anymore. I swear by glass lenses in spite of the fact that they make your glasses a bit heavier; Plastic lenses scratch way too easily, and since everyone who actually needs glasses wipes them on their shirt a few times a week, glass is a good choice. Since switching to glass, I haven't had a single scratch, which really improves my over all vision experience.

I'm not sure I'd trust people who don't know enough about high-index lenses. I've had people make mistakes with my glasses before, and it's disabling. There are all kinds of things you can and can't do depending on how thick that lens is going to be; for instance, you can't get those frameless glasses with your rx, nor can you get frames that have one edge without a frame. Given the size and weight of this lens, you need a full frame all around the lens. Because I prefer glass lenses, I must have metal frame; I've had opticians let me choose plastic frames with glass lenses before, which leads to repeatedly broken frames at the slightest bump. (My current frames are metal around the lens but plastic on the arms.)

High index lenses are their own beast, as far as I can tell, and since the majority of people who use cheap glasses services are probably -3 and below, you might want to stick to the professionals.

But I'd be very curious to hear about your experiences if you go forward.
posted by Hildegarde at 5:10 AM on May 20, 2009

I have -5.5s from Goggles4U and my two problems are this: I spent as little as possible (because they were costume glasses, actually), so they are a bit heavy, and, second, the PD is a bit off. That is because I measured it myself. Since then, I had my doc measure it for me, and he got a somewhat different number. I haven't ordered a new pair since, but I'm about to, and I'm probably going to use them again.
posted by cobaltnine at 5:25 AM on May 20, 2009

Bother, I fail at spelling. Glad you were able to google up the goggles site despite my mistake.

As Hildegarde notes, for strong prescriptions you probably want to pay for higher-index, and choose thickish frames. But you probably already know all that stuff. My goggles4u specs were just as good as my optician-made pair, and about a sixth of the price. Perhaps I was lucky, though?
posted by Tapioca at 5:34 AM on May 20, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all the advice. As a member of the double-figure-prescription club, I definitely wouldn't dream of getting my everyday glasses online (it's hard to think of anything that it makes less sense to scrimp on, for those of us who wear glasses every waking second). I'm just looking to get a cheap pair of prescription sunglasses as an experiment to see if they will make being outdoors in the sun more comfortable. I haven't tried prescription sunglasses for years, so I don't want to spend a lot to see if they work for me. If I find them helpful, then I'll go and drop some more money for high-index lenses, nice frames, etc.
posted by primer_dimer at 8:02 AM on May 20, 2009

I bought glasses from Goggles4u a couple of months ago - my prescription is not as strong (-6ish) but they seem perfectly fine and I haven't had any problems with them. Note that they charge extra for strong prescriptions and that only shows up on checkout, so they're not quite as cheap as they appear to be.
posted by penguinliz at 10:10 AM on May 20, 2009

My former colleague (sadly recently deceased so I can't ask for more information) had a very complicated high index prescription and always bought his glasses through Costco. This is not an online service, but a 'Cash And Carry' to which you must have membership. (As long as you're a little creative, it's apparently not that difficult to get membership, my colleague wasn't in trade). The cost of his lenses on the high street routinely ran to several hundred pounds, and I think he paid about 30% of the high street price at Costco. He was always encouraging me to join and get my glasses that way too, but I failed to follow this up.

As I understand it, here in the UK we use glasses and spectacles interchangably, hence SpecSavers etc tho' spectacles seems a little archaic. Eyeglasses sound North American to me, I've never heard it in conversation.
posted by boudicca at 1:44 AM on May 21, 2009

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